The world's greatest renewable energy source has nothing to do with the sun or wind, and surely nothing to do with a room-temperature fusion reaction. No, today while I slowly strangle the last few notes of Whitney Houston singing the Greatest Love of All, I realize that that energy source is happiness. It's a small, glowing ember in a vast dark chamber, true, but like a coal it can be nurtured and fed and brought to a blaze. Similarly, it can be choked by ash in the absence of attention.
Today's articles include Why all geeks need drugs and Hacking Your Body's Bacteria for Better Health. I point them out only because they touch on one aspect of something I've been thinking about. The ability to control the mind, body and soul. These articles focus on controlling the body aspect of an organism's makeup. It's a very important aspect to be sure, but it is largely worthless in the absence of care for the other two. The mind, for most intellectuals, is easily cared for, fed and exercised in various ways that require little devotion really. The soul however, is the modern era's greatest area of neglect. The consequence of soul-sickness, seen now in vast swaths of society, is arguably the single greatest threat to the future of humanity.
The mind may be seemingly easy to care for, but so is the body. At least, the recipe for its continued health is known to most rational people. Exercise, good food, throw in some vitamins and abstain from excess, and you pretty much have it. The care for the soul, in accordance with its nature, is a bit more of an ephemeral process. How does one attain spiritual health? For one, spiritual health requires community. While this may be satisfied by the company of fellow men, community here represents a communing with creation. Meditation is nothing less than the suppression of extraneous noise in order to hear and commune with that tiny and powerful spirit that pervades all things. A joining with this intangible reality is arguably the greatest community that can be achieved, resulting in the deepest fulfillment. But there are less grandiose ways to make a connection. Nature also provides a shining example of the universe at work, and can be easier to commune with being more closely tied to our origins. In general, spiritual health results in the cultivation of attitudes and emotions that connect us with the reality around us instead of isolating us from it. The mind and body then, have a dependency on spiritual health, possibly making it the most important aspect of one's happiness.
A final point, to reiterate the opening sentiment. Happiness, even if achieved through a blinding flash of enlightenment, will fade like satori if it is not renewed daily. Unlike our physical energy, which has a waxing and waning each day with a clearly defined pattern, spiritual energy exhibits different cycles depending on a variety of factors. While a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to its renewal every day, an organism will feel it eking away noticeably with multiple days of inattention. Take a moment when this happens. Yes, it is a moment for oneself, but the self should not be the focus of the moment. Think of the needs of those around you. Consider the trials and tribulations of friends. Consider your "enemies." Any thoughts in this moment of respite that are not consumed with ego are beneficial. This is not to exhort the life of a selfless, ascetic monk. The small moments of spiritual renewal are of benefit to all souls.